Perceptual rivalry as a window into cognition

Shashaank Vattikuti
National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Psychophysical differences are associated with many clinical cohorts and medications. However due to shortcomings of prior mechanistic modeling, these clinical studies suffer from mixed reproducibility and difficulties with interpretation. Perceptual rivalry is the alternation in perception despite a constant stimulus. Differences in rivalry have been shown for many major clinical cohorts including autism, schizophrenia, major depression, and bipolar disorder; as well as various pharmaceutical agents. In general, rivalry exhibits many robust but nontrivial phenomena that make it a challenge to model. Remarkably, as we show, there is a canonical neuron-level circuit framework that captures these phenomena and shows that rivalry is one aspect of a more general cognitive model. The framework allows for different scales of description and in many cases reduces to simple, low parameter systems that are tractable for mathematical analysis and model fitting. Psychophysics together with reduced models provides an avenue for measuring key biophysical factors that have clinical relevance.

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